Tag Archives | electrical grid

US electrical grid capacity estimates


The US electrical grid has insufficient storage capabilities. Thus, power must always be available from generating plants when needed. In total, the US has enough power to meet most any demand. However, getting power from one grid to another can be problematic.

The Texas ERCOT grid was designed to be self-contained and not need outside sources of power, a laudable goal indeed, but it may have backfired a bit on them . ERCOT is projected to be below target capacity this summer. But, due to its design, it is difficult to import electricity into ERCOT quickly. This is a good example of the problems faced by the grid. (And before someone gets snarky about Texas, it has vastly more installed wind power than any other state.)

Corruption, mismanagement means unstable power for US

Welcome to the increasingly unstable power situation in the US. We’re getting like the Third World, aren’t we?

No it’s not Yemen, where power outages in the capital Sana’a have sparked a new round of protests. It’s the United States of America, where corruption converges with a moribund electricity distribution system to produce increasingly frequent blackouts across the Midwest and East Coast.

Blackouts in these areas are becoming the norm. Too many power companies fired support staff assuming they would get temp help when needed. After all, “shareholder value” must be boosted so screw the reliability of the electrical grid.

I grew up in Connecticut and have family and friends there. An admittedly freak snow storm last October took down trees across the state. Power was out for over a week for many homes. Had the power company been trimming tree branches as they should have been, much of this would have been avoided. Worse, they had to hire contractors from other states to clean up the mess because they’d laid off much of their own staff to cut costs and boost that all-important stock price. Also, the Connecticut grid and interconnects are old and feeble. This contributes to unstable power and the grid should have been upgraded years ago. Stable electricity is too important to be left in the hands of companies solely interested in making a profit.

Everyone would like to know why [more blackouts are happening]. The answer is simple, and three-fold: An outdated electricity distribution system, corruption and mismanagement.

More at Celcias

Our aging electricity transmission grid and renewable energy

The World Resources Institute reports on the growing problem with our electrical grid, which was never meant to handle renewable energy, where generation starts and stops quickly and comes from all directions too.

Renewable energy resources are location constrained and often available only in remote areas. Their energy must therefore be transported via connected transmission lines (the grid) to demand centers, such as cities. Second, because RE resources are typically intermittent, this energy must be stored or managed with other generation sources to provide a stable and reliable service to consumers.

Widely distributed power could help here, but the only practical way to do that is solar on rooftops. This means the grid must be able to handle power generation from thousands of sources that can generate furiously then stop within seconds, like when a cloud passes overhead.

United States electricity generation and transmission planning and siting are managed in a highly local and fragmented manner. Renewable energy goals are currently set by states, rather than by the federal government, complicating broader regional planning for renewable electricity generation and supporting transmission.

A national grid requires national policy. That’s what we need to work towards.

Wind to be cheapest source of power, says Exxon

Yes, Exxon. One reason is that once installed, wind has no fuel costs (the same is true for solar, geothermal, and hydro) while coal, gas, and nuclear do. Over time, this cuts costs dramatically.

However – and this is a big However – this chart from ExxonMobil notes at the bottom that their wind and solar projections do not include the costs of an upgraded grid and energy storage. Both of these are essential for renewable energy to be effective at grid-scale.